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        General Assembly
6 June 1997



Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and
Budgetary Questions: Mr. MSELLE


In the absence of Mr. Sengwe (Zimbabwe), Mr. Stein (Germany),
Vice-Chairman, took the Chair.

The meeting was called to order at 12.30 a.m.




Draft resolution A/C.5/51/L.78

14. Ms. EMERSON (Portugal) introduced draft resolution A/C.5/51/L.78, which represented the agreement reached during informal consultations, and urged its adoption even though the exact amount to be appropriated to the Special Account had yet to be determined.

15. Mr. HALBWACHS (Controller) said that the Secretariat was working on the figures.

16. Draft resolution A/C.5/51/L.78 was adopted.

17. Mr. SULAIMAN (Syrian Arab Republic), speaking in explanation of position, expressed serious reservations regarding the draft resolution since, under international law, Israel, as the aggressor State, was required to bear the costs of financing the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force. To add insult to injury, Israel continued to refuse to withdraw from the Arab territories it had been occupying for 30 years, thereby flouting the principle of the non-acquisition of territory by force and defying the resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council.

18. Mr. STÖCKL (Germany), speaking in explanation of position, expressed concern over the fact that, following the unilateral decision by one Member State in October 1995 to reduce its assessed contributions, the amounts approved for all peacekeeping operations would not be fully covered by contributions of Member States. That would further aggravate the Organization's already difficult financial situation and jeopardize the implementation of all peacekeeping operations. In his delegation's view, the Secretary-General's commitment authority for every peacekeeping budget would have to be adjusted to the predictable income level. While Germany fully supported all peacekeeping operations and joined the consensus on resolutions relating to their financing, it would not stand for the non-payment of assessments by other Member States or for an effective change in its share of assessments for peacekeeping operations.


19. Ms. EMERSON (Portugal), reporting on the outcome of the informal consultations on the item, said that it had not been possible to agree on a consensus text.

Draft resolution A/C.5/51/L.71

20. The CHAIRMAN drew attention to draft resolution A/C.5/51/L.71, submitted by the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.

21. Ms. PEÑA (Mexico) said that she would like to propose a few amendments which would enable her delegation to accept the draft text. The following new paragraph should be inserted between paragraphs 4 and 5: "Endorses the observations and recommendations contained in the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions subject to the provisions of the resolution."

22. Furthermore, paragraph 6 should be replaced by the following: "Authorizes the Secretary General to enter into commitments for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in the amount of $1,773,618 to cover the costs resulting from the incident at the United Nations headquarters in Qana on 18 April 1996."

23. In paragraph 7 the word "only" should be deleted, and in paragraph 8, the budget for the next financial year should exclude the costs resulting from the Qana incident.

24. Mr. YEO (Peacekeeping and Financing Division), referring to the table on peacekeeping appropriations for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998, said that the total requirements for UNIFIL was $126,743,300 while the assessment was only $124,969,700. The difference between the two sets of figures was the deletion of the amount of $1,773,600, representing the costs of the Qana incident.

25. Mr. COHEN (Israel) said that Israel's action in providing medical assistance to injured members of UNIFIL had been a purely humanitarian gesture which should under no circumstances be interpreted as an admission of any responsibility. Israel was proud to have been involved in humanitarian projects including the provision of medical supplies and services in cases of need in Israel and throughout the world.

26. Ms. SHENWICK (United States of America) requested that the meeting be suspended so that her delegation could seek instructions with regard to the proposed amendments.

The meeting was suspended at 1.24 a.m. and resumed at 1.38 a.m.

27. The CHAIRMAN said that since the amendments concerning the insertion of an additional paragraph and the rewording of paragraph 6 had been agreed at the informal meetings, he took it that the Committee wished to adopt them without a vote.

28. It was so decided.

29. The CHAIRMAN suggested that the proposed amendment to paragraph 8, which would exclude from the budget for the next financial year the costs of the Qana incident, should be adopted without a vote.

30. It was so decided.

31. The CHAIRMAN suggested that the proposal to delete the word "only" from paragraph 7, should be adopted without a vote.

32. It was so decided.

33. The CHAIRMAN invited the Committee to vote on draft resolution A/C.5/51/L.71 as a whole, as amended.

34. At the request of the representative of the United States of America, a separate vote was taken on paragraph 7.

35. Paragraph 7 was adopted by 58 votes to 2, with 52 abstentions.

36. The CHAIRMAN invited the Committee to take a decision on draft resolution A/C.5/51/L.71 as a whole, as amended.

37. Draft resolution A/C.5/51/L.71 as a whole, as orally amended, was adopted by 107 votes to 2, with 3 abstentions.

38. Mr. COHEN (Israel) said that his delegation regretted that extraneous political issues already discussed in the Security Council and General Assembly had been brought into the deliberations of the Committee. For that reason his delegation had been unable to support the draft resolution.

39. Ms. SHENWICK (United States of America) said that her delegation was particularly concerned about paragraph 7, which apportioned a particular expense to one Member State. As currently formulated the paragraph had serious political ramifications that would affect United Nations operations. The resolution that had just been adopted politicized the funding of UNIFIL and so would weaken support for it in Israel, the United States of America and other States. Her country would find it difficult to support the routine renewal of UNIFIL's current mandate.

40. Mr. LOZINSKI (Russian Federation) said that his delegation regretted that it had not been possible to reach a consensus decision. His delegation had abstained because it was firmly committed to the adoption of decisions on financial matters by consensus; departure from that principle would create problems for the peacekeeping operations of the United Nations. The Fifth Committee's responsibility was to consider how to implement the decisions adopted by other bodies; his delegation had stated its political position on the issue in the General Assembly. UNIFIL could not discharge its mandate without adequate financing.

41. Mr. WATANABE (Japan) said that, acting on instructions from its Government, his delegation had abstained; it regretted that such a draft resolution had come before the Committee, whose task it was to consider administrative and budgetary issues. Japan's position with regard to the peace process in the Middle East had already been made clear in the appropriate forums. Moreover, the financing of peacekeeping operations was a matter of collective responsibility, and his delegation requested that the activities of UNIFIL should be made possible.

42. Mr. MENKVELD (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of the European Union, stated that the European Union's position on the financing of costs to the United Nations arising from the Qana incident was based on a number of elements, one of them being that the financing of United Nations peacekeeping operations should remain a collective responsibility; however, an appeal to finance the costs through voluntary contributions would be welcome. The European Union had abstained from the vote on paragraph 7 as it considered the text to be inappropriate. The political aspects of the Qana incident had been debated previously and the European Union had made its position clear in the General Assembly. The Fifth Committee would do better to confine itself to budgetary issues.

43. Mr. DRAUNIMASI (Fiji) said that the issue was a sensitive one. Since 1978, his country had lost 30 of its nationals who were serving with UNIFIL. The UNIFIL peacekeeping budget, as other such budgets, should be appropriated in its entirety; small troop-contributing countries such as his could not rely on voluntary contributions and without collective responsibility peacekeeping would be severely affected. Finally, he requested full compensation for the soldiers injured in the Qana incident.

44. Mr. ARMITAGE (Australia) said that his delegation was pleased that the resolution adopted would continue to give full financial support to UNIFIL although it regretted that a consensus resolution had not been possible. The assignment of costs for the Qana incident to one Member State represented an unwelcome departure from established principles as it attributed political responsibility, although the relevant political bodies of the Organization had not done so; moreover, it ran contrary to the principle of collective responsibility. His delegation had abstained because of its concern that paragraph 7 might set a precedent for the financing of future peacekeeping operations and limit the objectivity and effectiveness of such financing.

45. His delegation regretted that a proposed reference recalling General Assembly resolution 49/59 had not been accepted, as it could have called attention to the importance of respecting the safety of United Nations personnel. His delegation condemned aggression directed against those entrusted with maintaining peace.

46. Ms. POWLES (New Zealand) said that the Committee should keep in view that one of the smallest and most committed contributors had borne the brunt of the Israeli attack on the UNIFIL base. It was legitimate for troop contributors to expect that the costs of damages would be apportioned and if the Committee provided less than that it would be failing in its responsibility. However, the resolution that had just been adopted provided a guarantee of funds to compensate Fiji and so her delegation had been able to support it.

47. Mr. YUSSUF (United Republic of Tanzania) said that his Government was pleased that the resolution had been adopted. Those who had abstained or voted against had exercised their democratic right.


The meeting rose at 3.55 a.m.

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